Pet Illnesses

Feline AIDS (FIV) and Vaccines

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a common virus found worldwide with the number of infected cats dramatically increasing over the last 15 years.

In Australia approximately 7% to 29% of feral cats test positive to infection, many of which die from FIV related illnesses each year.

Although FIV is very similar to the human AIDS virus (destroying the immune system leaving the animal susceptible to infections), humans cannot contract Feline AIDS (FIV) from infected cats.

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Normal prices

Annual vaccine  $78.00
FIV Blood Test   $48.00
3 FIV vaccines   $90.00

Normal price  $216.00

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1. How can my cat become infected with FIV?

Cats can become infected if they are bitten by an infected cat as the disease is transmitted in saliva. If your cat often roams outdoors they are at a higher risk for contracting the disease. The virus is also transmitted via blood and although very uncommon it is may be transmitted sexually and from queens to kitten across the placenta or in their colostrum (milk).

2. What are the symptoms of FIV?

Once the cat has been infected, FIV can then progress to feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (feline AIDS) suppressing the immune system similar to that seen in the human AIDS virus. As a result an infected cat may show no signs of disease for months to years after being infected.

Later it may develop a fever, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, ear and skin infections, lethargy, sores in and around the mouth, slow wound healing, weight loss, upper respiratory tract infections, and eye lesions such as glaucoma. Neurological signs such as behavioural changes, weakness and inco-ordination/ wobbly gait are seen late in the course of the disease and tumours called lymphomas may occur.

Eventually the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections. As a result, the cat will die from one of these subsequent infections.

3. What can I do to prevent Feline AIDS/FIV?

FIV is progressive and eventually fatal with no known treatment or cure (similar to human AIDS). Vaccination of your cat is possible in Australia. Along with vaccination you can reduce your cats exposure to the virus by limiting indoor cats contact with outdoor cats, testing new cats entering the household for the virus and minimizing the chance of fights between your cats by isolating aggressive cats and close monitoring of new cats.

BHVG's Recommended FIV Vaccination Regime:

Kittens from 8 weeks

3 vaccinations against Feline AIDS/FIV are required along with the routine vaccines against Feline Enteritis, Influenza (F3 vaccine) and Chlamydia (F4 vaccine). An inter-vaccination interval of 2- 4 weeks is recommended.

Cats 6 months and over

It is recommended that a blood test prior to vaccination in cats over 6 months of age to ensure the cat has not been previously infected with the FIV virus.

Once vaccinated, a cat develops antibodies against the FIV virus and is protected. This means a positive FIV blood test later in life will probably be a false result i.e. the positive result is due to the vaccine generated antibodies being detected and is not an indication the cat is infected with FIV.

A new blood test can tell the difference between antibodies generated from a vaccine to those from an active FIV infection.

Once blood testing has confirmed that a cat is FIV negative, a series of three FIV vaccinations are required 3-4 weeks apart.

See also...
Annual Health Checks and Vaccines